Discernment: Like Sailing a Boat

Discernment is like sailing a boat on a large body of water when the wind is strong. Success depends on the wind, the sailor and the rudder.

The direction of the wind is like the voice of the heart. It expresses what sets them in motion and moves them forward.

The sailor is like the mind. She judges the direction and strength of the wind so as to respond optimally. Without a sailor, the ship has no direction and is at risk of rapid damage. She has to constantly take the direction of the wind into account. Without the wind, the sailor can do nothing.

The rudder, finally, is like the will. It gives the ability to make concrete decisions and choices. The rudder allows you to take to the open sea and sail further and further, instead of staying by the shore or bobbing about aimlessly.

Excerpted from Trust Your Feelings: Learning how to make choices with Ignatius of Loyola by Nikolaas Sintobin SJ (p.58)

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Watch and Pray

If we don’t make the effort to renew our love for God daily, we will become more and more lukewarm. And the more we sink into the slumber of mediocrity, the more fearful we will be of meeting Jesus on the way of the Cross. We need the vigilance of prayer to regain our spiritual consciousness. Prayer rouses us from the triviality of an existence that is centred upon ourselves. Prayer reminds us that we cannot dream our way to the truth and in the process, prayer gives us the courage to fight the good fight and finish the race.

Father, I’d love for you to find me fully awake. But so often I’m drowsy and discouraged, a mixture of good intentions and constant distractions. Take me as I am Lord, but don’t let me stay as I am. Raise me above my mediocrity and make of me everything that you want me to be.

Excerpted from The Mindful Our Father  by Thomas G Casey SJ (p.120)

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Jesus Calls Me A Friend

It’s profound to think of myself as a friend of Jesus, one to whom he reveals spiritual truth. A friend listens to me, stays with me when life is hard and when I’m not doing well. Jesus’ friendship–my connection to him–will make it possible for my life to be fruitful, even though I am not perfect and have many lessons to learn. What kind of fruit am I called to bear?

Excerpted from Sacred Space: A Little Book of Encouragement edited by Vinita Hampton Wright (p. 114)

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You Belong to Me

Dear God, the image of the divine that I mostly live with is the image of Jesus. You make yourself accessible to me through your Son. He belongs to the human race: he’s one of us, as we say! So when I want to know what you are like, I can go to the Gospels and watch you in action in the person of Jesus. I learn how you relate to me by watching how Jesus relates to those he met. He is the face of the divine: the Father’s face shines on him because he always has you in view. I might shine a bit better if I were to keep you in view in the same way.

Excerpted from I Am Infinitely Loved: A Month of Meditations by Brian Grogan SJ (p.12)

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There are as many ways of praying as there are people, and finding our prayer style as a bridge to God is a gift. Some like to walk on the seashore, or a rugged mountain and taste the beauty of creation while reciting a psalm as background music to help articulate wonder at the greatness and mystery of the universe. Many are put off by prayer in the false belief that they must wear their Sunday best before God. We come to God as we are, warts and all, in the same way that we go to a doctor for healing remedies. It’s not a case of cleaning the house before the cleaners come. It’s a friendship where airs and graces are off limits because we might be able to fool ourselves, but we can’t fool God. It’s helpful to remember that God loves us not for our good deeds, but for who we are, a member of God’s family, even if we’re not conscious of that reality.

Excerpted from Reimagining Religion: A Jesuit Vision by Jim Maher SJ (p.45)

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‘Aha!’ Moments

Jesus, help me to continue to track your disguises so that I may be alert to the endless ways you are present to me. I don’t want to miss you as you pass by. You stripped yourself of divine glory in becoming just like us, so it took a huge leap of faith for people to identify you and say, ‘Look, there goes the Son of God!.’ And then came your Passion. Your disguise was now complete. Your enemies said, ‘Come down from that Cross, then we’ll believe your claims’. But you didn’t. You kept your disguise. If you were God, then it seemed that God was dead.

But then you rose from the dead, only to disguise yourself again – as the gardener, as the traveller on Emmaus Road, as the visitor who asked for something to eat, as the figure standing on the lake shore at dawn. You gave hints: your message of peace, your forgiveness, your special way of breaking bread, your wounds – these helped doubting disciples, each in their own time, to reach their ‘Aha!’ moment. Is such slow revelation a kindness for us who cannot bear too much reality?

Excerpted from I Am Infinitely Loved: A Month of Meditations by Brian Grogan SJ (p.56)

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Is there one Christian spirituality or many?

I may be so moved by the compassion I see at work in the person and ministry of Jesus that compassion becomes the cornerstone of my spirituality. My whole life becomes an expression of the compassion that flows through me. It affects all my decision-making. You, on the other hand, may be captivated and challenged by the story of the rich young man. Because of this particular resonance you embrace a spirituality of radical simplicity. You model your life on that of the poor Jesus, who ‘emptied himself, taking the form of a slave’ (Phil. 2:7). The fact that we have different responses to the Gospel does not mean that either of us is living more authentically than the other. However, each of us is choosing – or has been chosen! – to live the one Christian spirituality in a particular way and with a distinctive emphasis.

Excerpted from God Ever Greater: Exploring Ignatian Spirituality by Brian O’Leary SJ (p.25)

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Do You Simply Love Me?

I was greatly helped when Pope Francis wrote in The Joy of the Gospel (n.6), ‘When everything is said and done, I am infinitely loved’.  This massive statement about your view of me, Lord, means that, no matter how I let you down, you delight in me as I am.

Just as the sun heats me without making a choice about it, you don’t have to make a choice about loving me: you simply do it! Often I’d prefer that you wouldn’t intervene in my life as you do, but if I can believe that your love for me is unconditional, total, like the warmth of the sun, I can manage what comes my way. You simply love me!
Excerpted from I Am Infinitely Loved: A Month of Meditations by Brian Grogan SJ (p.8)

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‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’

At three o’clock in the afternoon there was darkness and a great earthquake. It was as if the very foundations of hell were shaking, but the power of the love of Christ was undefeated and unquenchable. The joy of Easter was yet to come, but the victory was being won on Good Friday. In the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings for us lies our salvation, and that is why we think deeply about the Words drawn from him in the hours of his suffering. If we take our eyes from the cross we are lost; if we fail to contemplate the magnitude of the free offering of his life, then we will never be drawn to the cross with him, and we will spend our lives in lesser pursuits. The whole of our faith is determined by the events of this day; all else contributes to our salvation, but the cross of Jesus lies at its heart. The fact that Jesus hung on to the end and did not choose to come down from the cross is the reason why Christians live the lives they do and revere the symbol of a cross as the most potent and central reminder of their faith. It is the reason why millions of Christians gather at the foot of the cross on Good Friday.

Excerpted from Christ’s Seven Words from the Cross by John Mann (Introduction)

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The Joy of Belonging

The path to a better future, the future God desires for us, begins in the human heart, in our yearning to belong. In those desires is the road out of our crises, both our own and those of our world. By regenerating the bonds that bind us, in reoxygenating us to receive the gift that is our life and our world, we need first to know and experience the Giver, who is already here, waiting for us. There is no better manual for this than the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, and no greater spiritual guide in our time than Francis, the world’s first Jesuit pope.

Excerpted from to First Belong to God : On Retreat with Pope Francis  by Austen Ivereigh  (p.15)

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